Press "Enter" to skip to content

Tennessee County Bans Pulitzer- Prize awarded book “Maus”

By Duane Cruz, Staff Writer

In the past month, book bannings as well as a “book burning” have made headlines.

Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer-Prize winning book “Maus” is at the center of the discussion after being banned last month from McMinn County, Tennessee. “Maus,” which was used in the curriculum of an 8th-grade English class was banned on the grounds of nudity and violence.

The book follows an interview Spiegleman had with his father about his experiences during the Holocaust, in which the tragedy is depicted in cartoon drawings, with Nazi’s being depicted by cats, and Holocaust refugees as mice. 

Parents of the McMinn community argue that they should be in full control of what their children are privy to. In contrast, there is the issue of the stifling of educational awareness, in which the banning of books crosses educational boundaries that should be upheld by the constitution.

“Well that’s a big thing in history, everyone should know about the Holocaust and the things that its done to this world. So if they’re banning books about it, who’s going to know about it?” junior criminal justice major Daniel Maldonaldo said. “You shouldn’t be able to block someone else’s education just for someone else’s comfortability.”

In proceeding to learn that the books in question are in the hands of younger readers, his answer changed slightly.

“It depends on what that book is about. If it’s promoting something negative, not educational, especially for a school, I feel like it wouldn’t be appropriate. . . I think you should be able to read whatever you want, whenever you want. But when it comes to young children, I think there should be a limit to what they can access, not only books, but online too,” Maldonaldo said.

The sentiment of keeping children protected, and not exposing them to the current harsh realities is a shared one, but there are many students on campus who feel that banning these books is not a long-term solution. Sophomore game design major Edison Yang has seen the transpiring of banned books once before, and does not like where it’s headed.

“Well considering I’ve been to China a couple times, it’s most definitely the case over there. Do you know how many banned books there are in China? In China there are hundreds being banned, mostly by American publishers,” Yang said.

When asked how he felt when he first heard of books being banned, he noted “Intrigued because I was thinking more about why the books were banned, that now I kinda want to read.”

Another important angle on the issue of banning books is the fact that doing so brings more attention to the book than it probably would have in the first place. “Maus,” for example, has made headlines in online news articles and segments all over the country.

Sophomore digital game design major Lucy Sokolowremembers the first time she heard about banned books: “ They definitely talked about the ‘Diary of Anne Frank, and that was banned. I was probably in fifth grade. . .if you ban it [books] you’re just bringing attention to it and kids are going to look for it themselves.”

Banning books is one of the more bureaucratic ways that people have sought to censor certain books, while others have taken a more drastic approach. 

Christian pastor Greg Locke organized a book burning in Tennessee earlier this month, in which books such as “Maus” were thrown into a fire. Along with books, a number of occult related objects, such as ouija boards were also tossed.

The burning of “Maus,” in its extremity, has been seen as an even more flagrant violation of books, due to both its implications on education itself and to the obvious irony, as book burnings were orchestrated by the Nazi party in the cusp of World War II.

“A book burning is a very serious thing. If you don’t like the book that’s fine, just don’t read it. But I don’t think buying copies and destroying them is a good thing, I don’t think it sends a good message,” Sokolow said. “I think people ban books because the subject matter is uncomfortable to them, they don’t like facing what it is. . . I think we need to face a lot of hard truths, some of these books have those truths.”

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *